Joe Sitt’s Thor faces massive foreclosure suit at trophy Chicago property

Thor Equities’ Joseph Sitt and Palmer House Hilton at 17 East Monroe Street (Google Maps)

Thor Equities’ Joseph Sitt and Palmer House Hilton at 17 East Monroe Street (Google Maps)

Joe Sitt’s Thor Equities is facing a $338 million foreclosure suit at the Palmer House Hilton in Chicago, after the investor allegedly failed to make several mortgage payments on the trophy hotel property.

According to a complaint filed last week in Cook County Circuit Court spotted by Crain’s, Thor defaulted on the $333.2 million senior debt on the property. Wells Fargo, which is the lender, asked the court to appoint a receiver for the property.

An August appraisal of the 1,639-room hotel at 17 E. Monroe St. values it at $305.5 million, according to a Bloomberg report cited by Crain’s. That’s more than $100 million less than the $423 million CMBS loan on the property from 2018.

Thor bought the Palmer House for $230 million in 2005 and completed a $131 million renovation in 2008. The company, led by Joseph Sitt, saw net operating income at the hotel drop 20 percent year-over-year in 2019, even before the pandemic hit the hospitality industry. Thor has tried to sell the hotel at least twice in the last six years, asking $575 million in 2015 according to Bloomberg.

“The entire hospitality industry has been devastated by the pandemic,” a spokesperson for Thor told the Financial Times this month. The company declined to comment to Crain’s on the legal action. [Crain’s] — Akiko Matsuda

Kourtney Kardashian salió a la calle con sensual baby doll negro (+Fotos)

Kourtney Kardashian salió a la calle con sensual baby doll negro (+Fotos)

Las nuevas tendencias y estilos arriesgados han sido dictados por las hermanas Kardashian en los últimos años. Por redacción MiamiDiario Kourtney, Kim, Khloé, Kendall y Kylie saben lo que el público quiere y los complacen con atuendos millonarios, reportó Publimetro. Desde el jumpsuit de latex que utilizaron Kim y Kourtney, hasta un vestido naranja con […]

La entrada Kourtney Kardashian salió a la calle con sensual baby doll negro (+Fotos) se publicó primero en Miami Diario.

Rate of busted deals in US commercial real estate increased fourfold

Rate of busted deals in US commercial real estate increased fourfold

Rate of Scrapped CRE Deals Rises Worldwide Due to Covid (Credit: iStock)

Rate of Scrapped CRE Deals Rises Worldwide Due to Covid (Credit: iStock)

Soon after the coronavirus was declared a pandemic in mid-March, real estate dealmaking around the world ground to halt as capital markets froze and buyers reconsidered the value of assets.

In-contract deals that were disrupted in the early days of the crisis included a luxury hotel portfolio and a trophy office building in Midtown Manhattan, as well as countless smaller transactions. Data from Real Capital Analytics quantifies the scale of these “busted deals” — and puts the disruption in global context.

“The number of terminated contract deals as a percentage of closed transactions has jumped across the U.S., Europe and Asia Pacific as the tally of completed transactions in those geographies has also sunk,” the report finds.

In the years prior to the current crisis, the U.S. had a notably lower proportion of busted deals, with just 0.4 percent of in-contract deals falling apart between 2015-2019, well below Europe’s 1 percent and the Asia-Pacific region’s 1.5 percent.

From this lower baseline, however, the U.S. busted-deal rate increased the most dramatically after March, increasing fourfold to 2.5 percent — reflecting a dramatic drop in deal volume in the Americas, as CBRE research has highlighted. Europe and Asia Pacific also saw the proportion of busted deals rise sharply.
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Given the globalized nature of commercial real estate, the largest busted deal in the U.S. involved two APAC-based parties, with South Korea’s Mirae Asset seeking to scrap a $5.8 billion hotel buy from China’s Anbang Insurance Group. Meanwhile, the Asia Pacific region’s largest abandoned deal involved U.S.-based Blackstone Group, which ended discussions to acquire developer Soho China in May.

In Europe, terminated deals were concentrated in the U.K. British mall operator Hammerson’s $500 million deal to sell seven retail parks to private equity firm Orion was terminated in May, with Orion forfeiting a $26 million deposit in the process.

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Dylan who? Covid shifts focus off celeb-tied short-term rentals

Bob Dylan, Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald, with Big Pink (Credit: Evening Standard/Getty Images, Bettmann/Getty Images, and Wikipedia)

Bob Dylan, Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald, with Big Pink (Credit: Evening Standard/Getty Images,
Bettmann/Getty Images, and Wikipedia)

Sure, F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald once lived in the Montgomery, Alabama, home now available as a short-term rental. And yes, Bob Dylan and his fellow musicians slept and jammed in a Upstate New York house during their rollicking ride decades ago.

But in a Covid world, those have become just places to stay. The coronavirus has changed the short-term rental market in major ways, but some smaller shifts are also notable.

It was common before the pandemic for the homes of legendary figures to find their way onto short-term listing sites like Airbnb, often marketed as the place where this famous actor or that famous writer lived, usually with a premium attached.

While many still get booked, the pandemic has brought a change to clientele and the calculus of owners, according to the New York Times.

The owner of Big Pink, a modest home in Saugerties, N.Y., where Dylan and the Band wrote and recorded music in the late 1960s, said that his renters aren’t just superfans anymore.

“Most people were flying in from somewhere else to stay at Big Pink,” he told the Times. “But for the first time, we had renters from New York City who just needed a place to stay.”

Before the pandemic, it was common for properties like Big Pink to be reserved months and even years in advance and usually for short stays.

The owners of three cottages in California’s Monterey County, once the childhood retreat of “Grapes of Wrath” author John Steinbeck, said their renters are less attracted to the property’s connection to literary history and more interested in its utility.
They’ve also had to book for a minimum of a month, as required by city ordinance.

“There’s been a steady population of traveling nurses and people coming to stay near family,” said owner Kevin Delaney. “We’re booking months at a time, so comfortably sheltering in place is a big factor for renters.”

For Julian McPhillips, the owner of the Montgomery home where Scott and Zelda spent a couple of years in the 1930s, renters are now not as interested in its history. “We’re seeing a lot of concerned travelers, passing from one place to another who feel the suites are safer than a hotel,” she told the Times. [NYT]Dennis Lynch

Conoce a la sexy modelo que sacó a Brad Pitt de la soltería (FOTOS)

Conoce a la sexy modelo que sacó a Brad Pitt de la soltería (FOTOS)

Brad Pitt, conocido como uno de los solteros más codiciados de Hollywood, parece haber encontrado nuevamente el amor. Por Redacción Miami Diario En los últimos días, al afamado actor de Hollywood Brad Pitt se le ha visto en compañía de una misteriosa mujer que ha despertado las dudas en las fanáticas del hombre de 56 años. […]

La entrada Conoce a la sexy modelo que sacó a Brad Pitt de la soltería (FOTOS) se publicó primero en Miami Diario.

Digital branding startup Real Grader gets a boost during pandemic

Digital branding startup Real Grader gets a boost during pandemic

Alex Montalenti

Alex Montalenti

Miami Beach Realtor Nancy Batchelor started using a digital business card in recent months, allowing her to AirDrop her contact information to anyone she meets — at a showing or even while horseback riding.

Unlike the standard vCard, Batchelor, of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices EWM Realty, is using Real Grader’s Instacard, a link that includes her headshot, social media pages, Realtor and Zillow profiles, and her cell phone number.

Batchelor said Instacard “establishes credibility.”

“You don’t have all these business cards all over,” she said. “Nobody now likes carrying stuff.”

Real Grader, a Miami-based startup, has experienced a jump in business since March, as agents are forced to adapt during the pandemic, said co-founder Alex Montalenti. Many brokerages and agents are taking the time to revamp their websites, launch video panels and virtual events.

In addition to Instacard, the startup aims to also build and improve agents’ digital brands, by first grading agents on their online presence, coaching them and enhancing their online profiles, and in some cases, running their accounts, Montalenti said.

Since March, 700 agents have joined Real Grader out of its total of 2,700. The company has partnered with Douglas Elliman and has worked with Daniel Gale Sotheby’s International Realty in Long Island and Queens, and with Miami-based One Sotheby’s International Realty.

The startup raised an undisclosed amount of funding in March from the Connecticut Angel Investors Fund.

Montalenti said that funding gave Real Grader a value of $7.5 million. Since launching in 2018, Real Grader has raised a total of about $400,000. One of the company’s goals is to be valued at $50 million by May 2023, he said. The startup has a provisional patent on the Instacard technology.

Since March, Montalenti said the company has hired nine employees to keep up with demand. Real Grader launched a daily video training that’s attracted about 500 agents a day, reaching about 25,000 agents in recent months, he said.

“I had agents that wanted to quit during the pandemic but because of the trainings,” Montalenti added. “They stuck with it.”

Write to Katherine Kallergis at kk@therealdeal.com

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Amazon opens its biggest office ever. Outcry ensues

Jeff Bezos and the Amazon building in Hyderabad (Getty, Youtube/Amazon India)

Jeff Bezos and the Amazon building in Hyderabad (Getty, Youtube/Amazon India)

Amazon just opened its largest office in the world, spanning 1.8 million square feet, in Hyderabad, India.

It’s part of the e-commerce giant’s massive push in the second-most populous country, a move that not everyone is happy about, according to the New York Times. Namely, domestic retailers and elected officials.

Amazon started construction on the massive office building in 2016. It has 49 elevators, a helipad, a cricket pitch, prayer rooms and a 24-hour cafeteria. The building is part of a campus that is roughly 65 football fields large.

Amazon already employs 60,000 workers and 155,000 contractors at 40 offices, 67 distribution centers and 1,400 delivery stations around the country.

Unlike the U.S. and U.K., India prohibits foreign direct investment in retail. Amazon and other e-commerce companies must function as neutral marketplaces for independent sellers, according to the Times.

Critics of Amazon claim the company favors preferred sellers by offering big discounts and that it essentially undercuts and pushes out local retailers.

After receiving complaints from local retailers, Indian regulators are investigating Amazon and rival Flipkart for violating antitrust regulations.

The Confederation of All India Traders, which represents 70 million traders and 40,000 trade associations in the country, is among Amazon’s opponents.

Confederation founder Praveen Khandelwal called Amazon’s new office in Hyderabad — about 450 miles southeast of Mumbai — a way to “push for control and dominance over Indian retail trade in a more structured way.”

The company has a 32 percent market share in the e-commerce space, second behind Flipkart. [NYT] — Dennis Lynch 

VLT capta una asombrosa imagen de NGC 1365

VLT capta una asombrosa imagen de NGC 1365

NGC 1365 es miembro del Cúmulo Fornax, un grupo de más de 50 galaxias conocidas. Está ubicada a aproximadamente 56 millones de años luz de distancia en la constelación de Fornax, , según publicó muyinteresante Por Redacción Miami Diario NGC 1365 es un ejemplo sorprendente de entre las de su tipo, pues la barra prominente que […]

La entrada VLT capta una asombrosa imagen de NGC 1365 se publicó primero en Miami Diario.

On the menu: Restaurants in crisis

On the menu: Restaurants in crisis

Eateries at two of the hardest-hit cities, San Francisco and New York, have been decimated during the pandemic (iStock)

Eateries at two of the hardest-hit cities, San Francisco and New York, have been decimated during the pandemic (iStock)

Restaurants across the country are still in a near state of emergency months into the pandemic, trying to operate, pay rent and stay afloat while abiding by local and state Covid restrictions.

So it’s not surprising that eateries at two of the hardest-hit cities, San Francisco and New York, have been decimated. Both cities prohibit indoor dining; in California that’s a statewide ban.

Restaurant revenue data from a single day, Wednesday, Aug. 19, across 12 major metros highlights that struggle. And nowhere was it more evident than in San Francisco.

For restaurants in the city that day, business was down 71 percent year-over-year, according to restaurant management platform Toast. That compared to the national average of 42 percent. Toast collected data from 13,000 restaurants across the country.

New York City was second, with a 67 percent decline; while San Jose, California, had a near 64 percent drop; Oakland, was down 55.6 percent; and in Washington, D.C., restaurants fell 53.9 percent.

Toast data showed revenue in Boston restaurants on Aug. 19 was down 53.4 percent year-to-date; Philadelphia, 49 percent; Seattle, 48 percent; Miami, 46 percent; and Houston, at nearly 43 percent.

Courtesy of Toast

Courtesy of Toast

While New York restaurants have benefited more space for outdoor dining, owners still say they are barely scraping by and are concerned about what happens when the weather turns colder. In July, 83 percent of restaurants and bar owners in the city did not pay full rent, and 37 percent paid no rent at all, according to a survey of 471 establishments by the NYC Hospitality Alliance. As a result, the trade group has threatened to sue the city to allow reopening of indoor dining.

And though Miami has seen a rise in Covid cases after restrictions there were eased, the city will again allow indoor dining, at 50 percent capacity, beginning Monday.

In Chicago, where indoor dining returned in late July, revenue was down 42 percent on Aug. 19.

Los Angeles, which had experienced a surge in Covid cases in July, and has some of the tightest retail restrictions, reported a 40 percent drop in revenue.

Contact Sasha Jones at sasha.jones@therealdeal.com

The post On the menu: Restaurants in crisis appeared first on The Real Deal Miami.

Repair costs, pandemic, and supply delays mean plywood coverings linger on Main Street

(Getty)

(Getty)

Months after civil unrest prompted retailers in cities across the U.S. to board up their shops, there’s still plenty of plywood hanging.

The reasons vary, according to the Wall Street Journal. Some business owners say there’s still plywood up on their shops because glass shipments are delayed, sales are slow and fear of more unrest remains.

Just over a quarter of 88 business improvement districts surveyed by the business-services company Block By Block still had some stores boarded up. Boarding up was more common in the western half of the U.S. than the eastern half.

Scores of retailers boarded up their shops during civil unrest sparked by the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis. In Minneapolis and other cities including Los Angeles and Chicago, people looted and burned stores big and small, as well as other buildings during protests.

There was enough damage in Chicago for Illinois’ state government to put aside $46 million in federal funds to help businesses damaged and otherwise affected by unrest.

Looking forward, there are concerns among local business leaders that the sight of boarded up stores makes some neighborhoods less inviting, which could harm the local economy.

Jabari Jones, president of the West Philadelphia Corridor Collaborative business association, said that some business owners in West Philadelphia have left up boards because they can’t afford to repair broken windows and the like.

“It just doesn’t look good, it doesn’t feel good,” he said. “People don’t want to shop in an area where it looks like there’s broken windows or abandoned buildings and board up on storefronts.” [WSJ] — Dennis Lynch